Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Everyday Life Series

Summary: Blair's running late for a meeting and stops to call Jim in a phone booth.

This story won the Cascade Awards "Best Humor" (online) at the 1999 Senticon.

Stuck
by Becky
August 1997

"Sandburg, what do you mean you're stuck? Stuck where? Are you in trouble or something?"

"Oh, no, no, Jim, I'm fine, really. I'm just .... stuck. Look, I just wanted to let you know I was gonna be a little late to the meeting ... maybe a lot late. I don't know. It depends on .... well, it just depends."

Blair heard a sigh from the other end of the line. He looked through the glass panels of the phone booth and smiled nervously at the big man -- and his equally big dog -- intently watching him from outside the booth. "Jim, I should probably go now. I'm at a payphone and I don't want to hog the line."

"Payphone? What happened to the cellphone?"

"Uh, batteries are dead."

"Sandburg, what did I tell you about keeping that thing charged? One of these days you're really gonna need it and then not have it."

"Yeah, I know, Jim, I know. I'm sorry. I just .... forgot."

"Forgot. Why am I not surprised? Never mind. We'll talk about it later. Just how late you gonna be? And what exactly is wrong anyway? Your car again?"

"My car? No, my car's fine."

"That how are you stuck?'

"It's nothing to be worried about."

There was a pause and Blair could almost see Jim at his desk, rubbing his eyes, wondering what he'd done to deserve such a crazy partner. Finally Jim went on in a deceptively patient voice. "Chief, that's not what I asked. What exactly is the problem?"

"Jim, I don't think ...."

"Sandburg ...!"

Blair winced and held the phone away from his ear. He looked at the receiver and then thumped it against his forehead a few times, mentally cursing himself and his rotten luck. If he told Jim what had happened, he would never let him live it down. But if he didn't tell him then Jim the relentless detective was bound to somehow find him and see this whole mess. Not something Blair wanted to happen.

Jim's voice was coming through the receiver, sounding somewhere between annoyed and concerned. "Sandburg? Chief? Blair, answer me!"

Blair put the phone back to his ear. "Yeah?"

Jim sighed again. "Blair, where are you already? Do you need me to come get you?"

Blair hurried to squash that suggestion, laughing slightly. "Oh, no, no, no, Jim, you don't need to do that. I'm fine, really."

"Where are you?"

"Really, Jim, I'm fine. You just go on back to work ...."

"Blair ...."

"..... You're probably busy. I'll catch up with you later ....."

"SANDBURG!"

Blair winced again, then replied in a soft voice, hoping he sounded pathetic enough that Jim would let the matter drop. "Yeah, Jim?"

"First question. Tell. Me. Where. You. Are."

That voice wasn't one that Blair was willing to fool with. The answer spilled out before he could stop it. "In a phone booth at a minimart on 8th."

"All right. Second question. How are you stuck?"

"Jim, I ...." His voice trailed off, then he cleared his throat and continued. "I don't think I want to get into that."

"Just answer the question, Chief. The truth. No obfuscations, no misdirecting, just the plain, honest truth. You *do* know what that is, right?"

"Yes, I know what the truth is, Jim."

"Then tell me what the truth is."

Might as well get this over with. "The truth is, Jim, that I'm in a phone booth at a minimart on 8th .... and I'm stuck."

"Sandburg, you already told me that."

"No, Jim, you don't understand. I'm in a phone booth, with the door closed, and I'm stuck."

There was silence on the other end of the line. Blair heard a small thunk and realized that Jim had dropped the receiver on the desk, probably trying to gain some control. He waited for Jim's voice to come back on the line. After a few more seconds, he heard the receiver being lifted. Jim cleared his throat a few times, then said, "Let me make sure I understand you. You're stuck .... in a phone booth."

"Yeah. I remembered something I had to tell one of the other teachers at the University and stopped to call. When I tried to open the doors to the booth, they wouldn't budge. A couple guys outside tried to open it too, but, well, I guess it's just ... stuck."

"Why don't you just break the glass?"

"Because the owner of the minimart has this really, really big nasty-looking guy watching me to make sure I don't. He is *not* someone I want to mess with, man -- he's gotta be taller than Simon, huge arms, and this ... monster tattoo on one arm. And he's got this gigantic dog that could probably inhale me whole without even trying. It's got this spiked collar and keeps grinning at me and licking its chops -- I don't think it's had dinner yet. The dog, that is. Anyway, the owner called for someone to come out and take off the door so I can get out of here, but there's this traffic jam and ...."

He had to stop to take a breath and Jim interrupted. "Blair, just .... never mind. I'll see you when you get here, okay?"

"What? Oh, okay. I am so sorry, Jim. Really."

"Just forget it, Sandburg, it wasn't your fault. Don't worry about it. I'll see you in a bit."

"Yeah, okay, see you, Jim."

***************************

Jim replaced the receiver in its cradle and ran both hands over his face, shaking his head and chuckling to himself. Stuck in a phone booth. Only Sandburg could manage that.

Simon came out of his office and strolled over to Jim's desk. "Hey, Jim, where's the kid? I thought he was gonna join us for this meeting."

"He'll be here, Simon, just a little late. He, uh, got caught up in something."

Simon raised an eyebrow. "What's he got himself into now?"

Jim opened his mouth to tell him, then shook his head, grinning. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you, sir. Let's just say that it's something only Sandburg could manage. Only Sandburg."

- The End -


Cascade Awards '99